Tuesday 16 June 2009

Claude, Caddy or Marvin, the columbia river sea monster?

Jeff H. Johnson’s sculptured model of Cadborosaurus.

Official reports of a sea monster in the Columbia River date back to the 1930s with several sightings around the mouth of the river as it meets the Pacific Ocean. The creature is called Colossal Claude .
The Columbia River Lightship is usually credited with the first reported sighting of the creature. In 1934, the ship encountered a large animal swimming near the mouth of the Columbia River. First mate, L.A. Larson described the creature as "...about 40 feet long. It had a neck some eight feet long, a big round body, a mean looking tail and an evil, snaky look to its head." According to news reports at the time, the crew studied the animal for a while through binoculars, but wanted to investigate further by taking out a lifeboat and pursuing it. However, the officers of the ship turned down their request worried that the animal might swamp the boat or attack them.

Three years later, the crew of the commercial fishing trawler Viv also reported seeing a creature in the same area. Skipper Charles E. Graham described the sea creature as a "...long, hairy, tan coloured creature, with the head of an overgrown horse, about 40 feet long, and with a 4-foot waist measure." The report was very similar to another report in 1937, but that was 150 miles away down the Oregon coastline. In that sighting, a couple just south of Yachats, near a rocky outcrop known as the Devil's Churn and the Heceta Head Lighthouse, reported seeing an animal estimated at 35-feet long swimming in the Pacific Ocean. According to their accounts, the creature had a head similar to that of a giraffe's, complete with "incessantly fluttering" ears and eight-to-10-inch-long horns. The sighting resulted in the locals dubbing the animal the Yachats Serpent.

Reports continued for several years .April 13th in 1939, the crew of a halibut fishing ship,The Argo, came face-to-face with a creature near the mouth of the river .The creature reared up over 10-feet out of the water and was said to looked directly at the crew. The men stood and watched the large serpent that was about 10-feet from the ship's hull, while it was eating a fish. Argo Captain Chris Andersen reportedly had to step in when the men grabbed a large boat hook with plans to punch the monster. According to Andersen, "He could have sunk us with a nudge." In another newspaper interview about the account, Andersen reportedly stated, "His head was like a camel's. His fur was coarse and gray. He had glassy eyes and a bent snout that he used to push a 20-pound halibut off our lines and into his mouth."
Sightings continued until the 1950s, then they appear to have stopped. While the reported sightings had come from the Columbia River, there is a belief that the creature was the same one that has been seen as far south as San Francisco, California and as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia. There seems to be a sort of consensus that Colossal Claude is the same sea serpent that is also known as the Cadborosaurus (or Caddy for short) that was often sighted in the bay in British Columbia.
Then in 1963, the Shell Oil Company was off the Oregon coastline searching for a drilling site , when the underwater cameras picked up something strange. The film shows a 15-foot long creature with barnacled ridges along its body caught on camera, swimming in a sort of corkscrew fashion at a depth around 180-feet deep. The film footage caused a bit of a sensation when it was screened and the creature was called rather jokingly , Marvin the Monster. There have been various theories put forward that the creature is anything from a species of jellyfish to an animal that was leftover from the prehistoric era. Others claim that it is Colossal Claude.

Author Jefferson Davis ,in his book, Haunted Astoria tells of a local fisherman who had taken his boat up the Columbia River east of Astoria in 1989. They were dragging a net several hundred feet long and around 30-feet deep. When they tried to haul in their catch for the day, they found they had snagged and that halted the ship's motion and started to pull the bow of the boat down into the water. Captain Donald Riswick throttled the boat forward and freed the ship from whatever had snagged it, but was shocked to discover a large hole in the net that measured several feet across when they reeled the net in. While it was never clear what the net had grabbed, the story only added to the tales of a giant sea serpent seen swimming in the Columbia River.

Then there is this article:
Peter Ciams, "Colossal Claude and The Sea Monsters," The Oregonian. September 24, 1967.

Colossal Claude hasn't been seen for some time, but Marvin the Monster is reportedly alive and well. He's even appeared on television. Claude was first seen cavorting near the mouth of the Columbia River in 1934. Over the years he was often sighted by Columbia River lightship crewmen and by passing fishermen. But the once-familiar sea serpent hasn't shown up since the mid-1950s- Marvin is a comparative newcomer.He was first discovered swimming off the Oregon Coast by Shell Oil Company divers in 1963. His presence was recorded by video tape cameras, later screened for study by the nation's leading marine biologists.In addition to Claude and Marvin, the watery denizens have been sighted off Newport, Bandon, Nelscott, Waldport, Empire, Delake and also in Crescent and Crater Lakes.They come in several varieties and sizes. Some are shiny and some have scales. Some reportedly have coarse fur. There is even a variety of mini-monster, for the compact minded. One thing they usually have in common is the shape of their heads. Observers say they are most often found to be like those of the camel, or horse.L.A. Larson, mate of the Columbia River lightship, was probably the first to see Claude. That was back in 1934. Other members of the crew confirmed the sighting as did the captain and members of the crew of the lightship tender Rose."It was about 40 feet long," and Larson. "It had a neck some eight feet long a big round body, a mean looking tail and an evil, snaky look to its head."A news story of the day reported: "Members of the crew (of the lightship) after studying the monster for some time with field glasses, wanted to lower a boat and go after it, but the officers discouraged the plan for fear it would swamp the boat."Claude next popped into the news in 1937, when skipper Charles E. Graham of the troller Viv raced back to Astoria with the story of sighting a "long, hairy, tan colored creature, with the head of an overgrown horse, about 40 feet long, and with a 4-foot waist measure."Veteran fishermen gazed out over the Columbia bar and said: "It's Claude.Claude was repeatedly sighted through the years that followed. Once by Captain Chris Anderson of the schooner Arpo. He said he got a face to face look at Claude."His head was like a camel's," he said. "His fur was coarse and gray. He had glassy eyes and a bent snout that he used to push a 20-pound halibut off our lines and into his mouth." Other Oregon monsters that have competed for the headlines over the years include:

-Bandon's mini-monster, a 12 1/2 foot animal with a bulbous nose and a cow-like body covered with brownish hair.

--a 30-foot serpent with "a slender neck, a snake-like head, and a fan-shaped tail" seen by more than 30 people at Nelscott. The "thing" splashed around the Nelscott reefs on several occasions. One group of observers was considered extremely reliable--its members were on a WCTU outing from the Willamette Valley.

Proximity of Whiskey Run reef apparently had nothing to do with the sightings of a sea monster off Empire a few years ago. Ben Tanner, skipper of the troller Gold Coast, said the creature approached his fishing boat, "smacked its mouth, rolled its long lashed eyes at the crew, then pointed its tail in the air and dived straight down."Oregon Indians, of course, believe there is a monster in just about every fair-sized pool of water in the state. Their legends are full of such stories.There is a paleface corroboration, however, for monster sightings in both Crater and Crescent lakes. The latter, in particular, is said to have an unusual inhabitant that has been sighted several times.One day Henry Schwering and Bert Vincent were fishing on the lake. Henry later reported: "I suddenly noticed that the fish had stopped biting. Then I noticed fish scooting away and the water started boiling. Then I saw a huge, round head break water not far from the boat. " The next day Bert also saw the "thing" himself, as did others on the lake shore.Reports that a 22-foot hairy-chested monster had been washed up on the beach at Delake brought people hurrying to the spot on March 4, 1950. What brought them running was Old Hairy (as locals quickly dubbed him.)"It had the body of a cow, approximately nine tails, and is covered with hair all over the body and legs," ran one enthusiastic account.Pretty teen-ager Marybell Allum of Delake was the first to stumble on Old Hairy. Then her dad, town marshal Andy Allum, had a look. He said the monster weighed all of 1,000 pounds."It's a whale shark, undoubtedly," said Dr. E. W. Gudger, of the American Museum of Natural History. "A harmless critter with the body shaped like a tadpole.""Whale blubber," said an Oregon Fish Commission biologist."It's an elasmobranch," said Prof. Fred J. Kohlruss of the University of Portland. "It's a sea inhabitant whose bones remain in the cartillage stage."Despite all of this leaned thinking, the who and what of Old Hairy was never satisfactorily explained.

And so it is with Marvin, Oregon's youngest monster.Marine biologists have examined the Shell Oil Co. video tapes, which show Marvin in detail. The footage was shot during the company's search for off-shore oil.Marvin shows up as being about 15-feet long. He has barnacled ridges along his body, and he propels himself in corkscrew fashion in waters about 180 feet in depth.The University of California believes Marvin is a etenaphor jelly fish); Scripps Institute of Oceanography thinks he's a salpida: the University of Washington plumps for a siphonophore (another jelly fish,) the University of Texas believes simply that he is a creature left over from prehistoric times.But the fishermen hunched over their beer glasses in Astoria taverns know otherwise. Misty-blue eyes strained seaward, with not a little affection, they say: "It's probably Claude."Marge Davenport, "Caddy, northwest sea serpent and other fishy stories, "

There is a similar story in the book :Afloat and Awash in the Old Northwest. Tigard, Oregon: Paddlewheel Press, 1988, p. 201-208.

So questions remain. Are they all the same beasties that are seen and known as Caddy? Are they a family of beasties? Why have the sightings stopped in the mouth of the river, have they moved on ,perhaps global warming, or lack of fish stocks? Certainly an interesting one and the first time I have heard of Claude. The world of cryptozoology never fails to catch my interest and I learn about something new nearly every day.


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